WTEN: UNC downs Alabama, advances to NCAA semis
Posted May 17
Athens, Ga. — North Carolina took down second-seeded Alabama, 4-2, on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship at Henry Field Stadium.
Seventh-seed North Carolina (28-5) will play 11th seed and defending national-champion Stanford on Monday in the semifinals at 1 p.m.
“Doubles were really key today,” said head coach Brian Kalbas. “Whitney (Kay) and Caroline (Price) came through for us. We played the best three doubles match of the year so hopefully this will give us momentum going into the next round.
“I thought Tessa (Lyons) was a huge factor for us. She was a big factor in doubles and at number six singles. Even though she didn’t finish, Tessa getting that first set was a tone setter. Also Kate (Vialle) winning at five against another really good player was strong for us today.”
It was full of drama, but Carolina was able to win the doubles point over Alabama to earn the early 1-0 advantage over the second-ranked Crimson Tide.
Kalbas made a calculated decision to switch up the lineup on court three with Ashley Dai and Tessa Lyons. That paid immediate dividends with a dominating 8-2 victory over the 71st ranked duo of Emily Zabor and Luicelena Perez.
On court one, third ranked Hayley Carter and Jamie Loeb lost 8-5 to fourth ranked Erin Routliffe and Maya Jansen. It marked the first loss for the Tar Heel freshmen in a dual match all season long.
The point came down to court two between Carolina’s 13th ranked tandem of Whitney Kay and Caroline Price and Alabama’s 39th ranked Danielle Spielmann and Mary Anne Daines.
Kay and Price jumped out early to a 4-1 lead, but the Crimson Tide ran off the next three points to knot the match at 4-4. Alabama took a 6-5 lead, but Kay held serve to make it 6-6. Price did the same down 7-6 to send it to a tiebreaker to decide the doubles point.
UNC led 4-1 in the tiebreaker, before it tightened up to 6-5 in favor of the Tar Heels, but a ball hit long by Alabama gave Carolina a reason to cheer by winning the critical doubles point.
In singles, Loeb and Kate Vialle earned straight-set wins on courts one and five, respectively to give Carolina a 3-1 lead over the Crimson Tide. The advantage shrunk to 3-2 in favor of the Tar Heels, but Carter clinched the match with a three-set win on court two, which just so happened to be on her 19th birthday.
Alabama tied the match 1-1 with a victory on court four, but Loeb picked up her 49th win of the year with a 6-2, 6-3, win over No. 65 Daines.
Vialle made it 3-1 with an impressive 6-1, 6-4, win over Zabor.
Carter, up a set, gave away the second, but stormed back with a dominating 6-2 victory in the decisive third set to send the Tar Heels into the Final Four for the first time since 2010.
WOMEN'S QUARTERFINALS: #7 NORTH CAROLINA (28-5) def. #2 ALABAMA (25-5), 4-2 - Henry Feild Stadium
Doubles (Order of finish: 3,1,2)
1. #4 Maya Jansen/Erin Routliffe (ALABAMA) def. #3 Jamie Loeb/Hayley Carter (NORTH CAROLINA), 8-5
2. #13 Whitney Kay/Caroline Price (NORTH CAROLINA) def. #39 Mary Anne Daines/Danielle Spielmann (ALABAMA), 8-7(5)
3. Ashley Dai/Tessa Lyons (NORTH CAROLINA) def. #71 Luicelena Perez/Emily Zabor (ALABAMA), 8-2
Singles (Order of finish: 4,1,5,3,2)
1. #1 Jamie Loeb (NORTH CAROLINA) def. #65 Mary Anne Daines (ALABAMA), 6-2, 6-3
2. #5 Hayley Carter (NORTH CAROLINA) def. #93 Danielle Spielmann (ALABAMA), 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
3. #77 Erin Routliffe (ALABAMA) def. #59 Caroline Price (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-4, 7-6(3)
4. #110 Maya Jansen (ALABAMA) def. Whitney Kay (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-4, 6-3
5. Kate Vialle (NORTH CAROLINA) def. Emily Zabor (ALABAMA), 6-1, 6-4
6. #109 Luicelena Perez (ALABAMA) vs. Tessa Lyons (NORTH CAROLINA), 4-6, 7-5, 0-1, unf.